Bromley mum forced to share single bed with five-year-old

A woman in South London was forced to share a single bed with her five-year-old daughter for three months, after being placed in temporary accommodation by her local council.

The property was also allegedly full of rat droppings and mould.

The unnamed woman was assigned the accommodation by Bromley Council 10 months after she sent in her homeless application.

The incident was revealed in a report published this month by legal charity Public Interest Law Centre (PILC), detailing the housing support response across London for domestic abuse victims.

After arriving at the property, the woman noted the poor condition of the space.

In the report, she said: “There was damp and mould throughout the property.

“There were rat droppings all over the property, it was often freezing and there weren’t any curtain poles to darken the room at all.”

Along with the mould and rat droppings, the mattress in the property was reportedly stained and dirty, with the filling torn out in places.

The agent for the space agreed to resolve the issue, but never followed through on replacing the mattress.

The woman said in the report: “In the end, my key worker had to arrange for a single bed to be placed in the room which both me and my daughter slept in.

“I begged the landlord to buy a mattress for me as it was very uncomfortable to share a single bed with my daughter.”

Eventually, the single bed was changed by the property’s landlord, which the woman said she was “very grateful” for.

She noted that the state of the property had been very distressing for her daughter, as she kept saying she “didn’t want to be there” and was “really upset”.

Regarding the situation, the individual stated that the condition of the property made her choice to flee her previous residence even more difficult.

She said: “Bromley Council’s behaviour has made me question my decision to flee.

“I don’t want to give up for my daughter’s sake. I want her to have a chance at living a normal and happy life, away from abuse.”

As highlighted in the report by PILC, local councils are required by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 to ensure no individual is turned away from life-saving support.

The report investigates the systemic issue of barriers put in place for domestic abuse victims seeking housing support from local councils, including long delays in decision-making and unsuitable offers of accommodation.

A Bromley Council spokesperson said: “Domestic abuse is a serious problem across the country and in common with other local authorities the council seeks to support survivors of domestic abuse in a number of ways, thereby also meeting the local authorities’ statutory requirements as set out in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

“Where appropriate our sanctuary scheme can help to prevent homelessness in the first place by making residents feel safer in their own home through installing enhanced safety measures.

“Access to safe accommodation and bespoke support for women and children fleeing abuse is also available through our support providers.

“There is a much publicised national housing shortage which we are tackling locally, including by increasing housing supply and staffing resources to support residents in difficult situations.

“The standard of accommodation is also important and the council does make in-person checks that the accommodation being offered is suitable, as we did in this case prior to occupation.

“We understand that there can still be issues with accommodation and where these are raised the council will work with the accommodation provider to either rectify these within a timely manner or seek to provide alternative accommodation as required.

“While the resident, in this case, was safely housed at a refuge during the interim period, the indicative timeline does not reflect our usual service standards for providing temporary accommodation.

“We apologised to the individual concerned for this some months ago as part of reviewing the exact circumstances of this case and we continue to be in contact with and offer support to this person.”

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